Decoder Ring is one of those media analysis podcasts that is purely for the sake of it, and because they can afford to do so. It’s nowhere as well-funded as, say, The Joe Rogan Experience. Nor is it as meticulously crafted as You Must Remember This, hosted and mostly single-handedly kept going by the efforts of Karina Longworth, who is a respected historian in her own right but is very much one of many within the field of ‘remember Old Hollywood? Wow.’ Slate’s Decoder Ring, by contrast, is far more niche; Willa Paskin isn’t really concerned with talking about The Big & The Now, and is similarly not as interested in the grandiose stories and myths of celluloid stars that have almost all died off (not you, Olivia de Havilland! Keep on trucking!). No – what you’ll find on this show is a conversation about topics ranging from ‘why do people still want Jennifer Aniston to have children’, to the Bartmania of the very early ‘90s, to a fascinating conversation with the originator of the gender reveal party, and more. It’s very chill, but surprisingly intimate – there’s an episode about the social and financial dynamics behind ice cream trucks and their operators, featuring a simple chat about the legacy her father leaves behind in their ice-cream van. Personally, I found the episode about paper dolls to be one of the kindest media moments I’ve listened to in the last year, a lot of it due to how Paskin seeks out people that would not have anyone to recount their history to otherwise.